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Hello and welcome to Daily Crunch for December 9, 2021! Yes, we’re one day closer to the Christmas holiday for all those who celebrate, so we published part two of our 2021 venture capital book recommendation guide today. Part one is here. There’s a lot of books in there, so make sure to curl up before year’s end and recharge with some reading! —Alex
The TechCrunch Top 3
- Italy fines Amazon $1.3B: The fine is due to the U.S. e-commerce giant having “abused its dominant market position and pushed third-party sellers to use the company’s logistics service Fulfillment by Amazon,” TechCrunch reports, citing the Italian Autorità Garante della Concorrenza e del Mercato. Most tech fines are too small to even note. This one will sting.
- Build a unicorn with this one weird trick: All you have to do, it appears, is tell investors that you are raising capital to launch or aggregate e-commerce brands in a particular market, and, viola, unicorn status. That’s our takeaway from not only covering dozens of rounds in the e-commerce rollup market lately and the fact that Merama went from zero-to-unicorn in less than a year.
- The EU gets ready to change the gig labor market: If your company depends on using contract labor in the European Union, bad news. Things are likely changing in the coming years. Per our own Natasha Lomas, “EU lawmakers have formally proposed legislation for the gig economy they hope will improve conditions for platform workers across the bloc.”
Before we dive into the day’s mix of startup happenings, one more piece of data for you to chew on. Silicon Valley may be seeing its status as the The Startup Market being challenged both at home and abroad, but another market is not changing as quickly. Namely the funding landscape for women founding business-focused software companies. Given just how big a chunk of the startup market such businesses comprise, the gender gap is staggering. (A small shoutout to our own Ron Miller for his consistent reporting on inequities in the startup industry is in order, I think.)
- Robotic Research raises nearly a quarter billion dollars: $228 million, to be clear, which is darn close. What does the company do? It turns out that Robotic Research has “spent the last two decades developing on- and off-road autonomous vehicles for the Department of Defense.” So, yes, this is another huge funding round for autonomous vehicles. Let’s hope that this check is indicative of progress made, instead of progress anticipated, regarding the huge problem space that the startup is tackling.
- Today in Very Good startup names: If you were founding a startup that made underground drilling tech, what would you call it? Perhaps Petra? That would be a good name. And the robot itself? How about Swifty? Well, if you thought those would be good names, the Petra crew would agree. They just raised a $30 million Series A for their very not boring boring work.
- Ledger to launch crypto debit card: If you own a lot of crypto, how to actually spend the stuff can be an issue. Ledger is working on a debit card to help the crypto-rich use that wealth IRL. In the meatspace, if you will. Coinbase has a similar product, to give an example. Even the Hodl Gang have to pay rent.
- Deed’s better corporate giving platform lands $10M: Many companies have a corporate giving plan in place. Some companies, for example, match employee charitable giving. Deed wants to help more companies do more with their giving work. The startup just landed $10 million for its efforts.
- Today in $8.5M-$8.7M rounds: Rare is it that we see two rounds with the same dollar amount under the $10 million mark. Today we have effectively three. First, Bird Buddy raised $8.5 million for its smart bird feeder tech, no joke. Second, Airplane raised $8.5 million for its developer workflow automation service. And Mio raised $8.7 million to help make enterprise messaging services like Slack and Teams interoperable.
- And then there was Rho, which is seeing its corporate spend product rapidly scale. So quickly in fact that investors just gave it a $75 million Series B.
- Closing out today’s startup notes: Acronyms. Namely fintech acronyms. What would happen if you took B2B and smushed into BNPL? Aside from creating the simply awful B2BBNPL (B2BNPL? BBNPL? 2BNPL 2FURIOUS?) acronym, Affirm spinout Resolve just raised $25 million for its efforts to bring the buy now, pay later payments and debt phenom to the business-to-business market.
Usage-based pricing is a companywide effort
In his latest guest post for TechCrunch+, OpenView partner Kyle Poyar explains why usage-based pricing “is a companywide effort” that “requires ditching the old SaaS metrics playbook.”
It’s no fad: UBP went mainstream because SaaS companies that use it see dramatically higher growth and retention rates.
Citing examples from powerhouses like Twilio, Stripe, AWS and others, Poyar explains how UBP companies “share their customers’ success” and reduce their risk of ending up with a CRM packed “with lots of unprofitable customers.”
(TechCrunch+ is our membership program, which helps founders and startup teams get ahead. You can sign up here.)
Big Tech Inc.
- Spotify and chill: Sure, “hanging out” to watch “Netflix” may have become an only marginally coded phrase in English of late, but with Tinder partnering with Spotify to allow users to “hear a 30-second looped preview of a potential match’s chosen song while checking out their profile,” we are curious about how long a variation of the theme will come to market.
- Netflix takes on SEO spam with new website: American streaming giant has come out with a new website called “Tudum,” which, if you say it out loud, sounds roughly like the noise that the Netflix logo makes when you fire up its app on your television, staring down another night at home thanks to COVID-19. Tudum! Anyhoo, the website “will host consumer news about renewals and release dates,” TechCrunch reports. Which means that those articles about “What To Watch On Netflix November 28, 2021” may lose some of their SEO juice.
- GM locks in supplies to build domestic EV tech: Deciding to build electric vehicles is a step in a longer journey that includes some delicate sourcing work. Getting one’s hands on the raw materials required for battery production is no easy task. Nor is “locking in a domestic source of rare earth minerals, alloy and finished magnets for the electric motors” work that GM has recently undertaken.
- And, finally for today’s news roundup, Meta has rolled out new tooling for Facebook Live users.
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Richard Dal Porto